Now that the big first wave of 2017 free agency has ended, let’s examine all of the acquisitions for the Jags. I want to cover the motivation that Caldwell and Coughlin had for picking up the phone on each of these players, as well as how their roles might look on and off the field for the upcoming season.
Calais Campbell, DL: Everything about Calais Campbell screams “character.” The two time captain and Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee is the physical embodiment of a positive locker room leader. Malik Jackson was a force on the D-Line last year, but he wasn't necessarily a natural vocal leader. I think that Calais Campbell brings more than just 5+ sacks a year for eight consecutive seasons, he will be the leader of the Jaguars defensive line and a leader for the entire team.
A.J. Bouye, CB: I would have been content to resign Prince Amukamara and play him opposite Jalen Ramsey just like last year. However, Jacksonville allowed him to leave and did not slouch on paying for his replacement. Bouye cashed out after his thrilling 2016 campaign, and playing opposite of Jalen Ramsey, he brings the Jaguars into the argument for best CB Duo in the league. This move will allow more freedom for the safeties and even speedy linebackers such as Telvin Smith and Myles Jack who know know that the #1 and 2 receivers are facing top notch defensive backs.
Barry Church, SS: Choosing to let Jonathan Cyprien slip to the rival Titans, Church enters as the new Strong Safety. The front office chose not to spend big money on this position, which is perfectly fine. Church’s contract (4 yr/ $26 mil) is slightly higher than Cyprien’s. (4 yr/ $25 mil) This move fills a hole short term, and does so with an above average strong safety that possesses great football character and leadership. But at 29 years old Church will likely not be a long term answer for the Jaguars.
Earl Watford, G: Another Cardinal coming over to Duval, Watford will be another piece on the Jags’ O-Line unit. Looking for information, I went to the /r/AZCardinals thread when of his move to Jacksonville. It was filled with phrases such as “Great for Oline depth,” “decent guard,” and “solid.”
Following a season where he started 10 games for the Cardinals and was mostly underwhelming there wasn't a huge market for the "swiss army knife offensive lineman". If he wants to start in Jacksonville this year, he'll not only have to beat out Patrick Omameh and Chris Reed, but perhaps an early round draft pick.
Lerentee McCray, Audie Cole, Josh McNary, LB: The trend is the same here with these three: depth and Special Teams. McCray played under new ST Coordinator Joe Decamillis in Denver, and Cole has been a contributor in Minnesota for five years. McNary also has experience on special teams and rotational play in Indianapolis. These all are very low risk, easy signings. All three of these guys have been descried as special teams studs and McNary actually led the Colts with nine special teams tackles in 2016.
Stefan Charles, DL: This signing is more depth. The Defensive Line carries a lot of roster spots on the 53 man roster, so bringing in extra competition can’t hurt. This player has more of a focus on run stuffing than pass rushing, as you would expect from his 300 pound body.
THE GENJAG PODCAST
Ep. 22: Welcome to Duval
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